Tag Archive | Christmas decorations

Cinnamon Cabins

Every year, Mr. Gren and I get our kids a new Christmas ornament just for them. Sometimes we let them choose, other times we surprise them. Either way, they always look forward to seeing their new ornament on the tree. We didn’t want this year to be any different just because Mr. Gren is unemployed. The kids have already missed out on a lot this year because of it. The hitch is, we can’t buy ornaments this year. When we moved, I didn’t bring my full crafty equipage, which limited my options for DIY ornaments. Basically, I have yarn or fabric. I wasn’t feeling it, though. Mr. Gren suggested that I make something that would remind the kids of the year we had Christmas in the cabin. Last week, I was browsing around etsy for fun and happened across some cinnamon clay ornaments. Cinnamon clay… hmm….

I did a search for a recipe and found several sites all giving the exact same recipe. I don’t know where it originated, but apparently it’s the most popular recipe on earth because it was everywhere, from women’s magazines to homeschool groups to pagan & Wiccan forums. Try that for a conversation starter, sometime. Or maybe the opening line to a bad joke. Anyways, this recipe, in addition to copious amounts of cinnamon, also called for equally generous quantities of applesauce and glue. This struck me as odd since I knew there were plenty of homemade play-doh recipes out there that never included so much as a drop of glue. “Kneading” said dough also seemed a dubious proposition, although it must work somehow given the pervasiveness of this particular recipe. Still, I wasn’t sold. The next day, I did another search and, miraculously, the first link that came up was a question by someone looking for a cinnamon clay recipe that did not include applesauce and glue. And somebody actually had an answer! She referenced this site: The Holiday Zone. It has both versions of cinnamon clay.

Just a little bit of paint for the finishing touches.

I copied down the recipe and then realized that this was going to make a lot of dough. I only needed to make three ornaments! With Mr. Gren’s help, because I am pathetic at math because he loves me, we reduced the recipe by a third. I’m going to reprint it here so that the unadulterated version of this recipe will live in at least one more place on the web.

Cinnamon Clay

3/8 cup flour
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/3 cup salt
1/2 Tbsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 Tbsp ground cloves (optional)
1/3 cup water

Mix dry ingredients with water to form smooth, stiff dough. Sculpt as desired or divide dough and roll it out flat between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4″ thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. While dough is still soft, use a straw to poke a hole near the top for hanging. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes to dry.
This recipe makes four to five 2.5″ ornaments.

Some notes from my experience: It may be better to dissolve the salt in the water rather than mixing it with the flour and spices. The salt wanted no part of this. While I was kneading the dough, grains of salt were abandoning ship left and right. Thank goodness for the wax paper that made cleanup easy. Also, this dough puffs up quite a bit when you bake it, so take that into account when creating your shapes.

Look close and you can see the salt.

I don’t have a house-shaped cookie cutter, so I had to form my own little log cabins. The puff-effect distorted their shape a little, but it doesn’t matter because the kids were enchanted by their very own little cabins. And that was the goal.

All three little cinnamon cabins

Thrifty crafty Christmas

Slowly but surely, we are getting the cabin decorated for Christmas. We weren’t able to set out most of our decorations designed to sit on a table; there just weren’t the places for it here, and my three little people can barely leave things alone. Really, the prime place for Christmas decorations is the great stone fireplace. Problem was, I really didn’t have much to put up there. At the time that we began our Christmas decorating, we were having terrible windstorms, so we didn’t want to hang the wreath outside. Instead, we made it the focal point on the chimney. But it looked kind of lonely up there. We had a few strings of silver beads (originally table decorations from our wedding) that I laid across the mantel to give it some sparkle. But we still needed something else. Embarking on our ninth month of no income, we’re not in a position to purchase new decorations, but I’m not letting that dampen my crafty spirit. Some soup and green beans later, we had new decorations. What, you don’t measure time in increments of food?

Ready, set, tin-punch!

It’s such a simple craft. The supply list is short and easy to come by: a hammer, a nail, an empty tin can, and a scrap of paper for your design. I did fill each can with water and then set it in the freezer overnight. The ice gives the can some structural integrity while hammering the nail through. Then, once the design is punched, run some warm water through the holes to melt the ice block just enough to slide out. Let the can dry, then pop a candle in it and you’re done! I think it was on Martha Stewart where they spray-painted the cans gold or glittery silver to dress them up a bit. That’s nice and all, but I don’t have paint and I’m trying to do this for free. Maybe next year I’ll paint the cans, but for this year, I think they look pretty good as is.

More cheap-as-free decorations to come! Granota and I took a walk in the woods the other day and collected a few interesting things to use. I have one more item on my forest foraging list before I can start that project. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find it in the next day or so! Stay tuned… you just never know what I’m going to come up with.